A conversation between Friends NYC co-founder Mary Meyer and one of her besties forever Bonnie Pipkin.
This Tuesday June 27, 2017, beloved friend of Friends Bonnie Pipkin is having a book release for her debut novel Aftercare Instructions. AI is a powerful young adult page-turner that takes on, among many things, teenage pregnancy and abortion. Bonnie's writing style is much like her: raw, fearless and beautiful. To know Bonnie is to love her and to be friends with Bonnie is to know to most steadfast, solid and hilarious friend you could find. She's been at almost every party we've ever thrown (because bros show) and even mentions Friends in the novel when the protagonist goes to a crazy warehouse party in Bushwick :) . Below is a little Q and A I did with her about the book.
Don't miss the launch party and reading June 27th at Powerhouse Arena, 28 Adams St 11201
Or the after-party at Marco's 1071 Broadway 11221 in Bushwick! Drink special to benefit Planned Parenthood!
MM:What inspired you to write about teen pregnancy?
BP:I was definitely inspired to write for teens in general when you and I started doing our after school theater program with teenagers. I’d always written, but suddenly there was a new voice that I tapped back into when I was around teenagers again. That was some of the most inspiring work I’ve ever done– creating stories with teens. I even named my main character after one of our former students, Genesis! Though it is not her story at all, just her cool name.
It was also important to me to write a story where a character felt empowered enough to make her own choice that was right for her body. The book itself isn’t really about teen pregnancy, but more about choice and aftercare, and how we get through the toughest times through the support of our community.
MM: What do you hope people will get from this book?
BP: I want people to read this book and to find a piece of themselves in it. Genesis is a flawed character. She makes mistakes, just like everyone does. I want people to think and feel when they read it. I want people to know that unintended pregnancies are a part of so many of our lives, and how important it is to have resources to make the right choice for ourselves – someone doesn’t have a scarlet “A” emblazoned on their chest for going through an abortion. I want the topic of abortion to be less of a big white elephant in the room, especially for teens. Can I do all that with my little book? Probably not, but I do hope it starts some conversations.
MM: How long did it take you to complete AI? I ask this because I want people to understand how lobg this kind of thing takes!
BP: I started writing the book during my MFA program at Vermont College of Fine Arts, and was finished with it two years later. Then I signed with my literary agent and worked on editing the manuscript for another two years. Then I sold it to Flatiron Books / Macmillan and worked with my editor there on it for another six months! And how fast did you read it? Two days?
MM: Tell the story about how we met.
BP: Oh wow. Okay, so back in 2004, I produced a big epic rag tag theater production of a play called “Eagle the Terrorizer,” written by our bud, Rob Bryn. It was this big, beautiful community collaboration with all the people who were hanging out in the bars together and looking for another outlet. You still lived in California at the time but were in town when we performed the show. I was collecting RSVPs via email and I still have that first email you ever sent me. It said:
i want to rsvp for the play for next wednesday the
29th my name is mary meyer. hope all is well.
I love that you wrote “my name is mary meyer.” I look at that and find it so cute!
So, then it was a couple years later, and the first time I ever really remember connecting was when a group of us all took a late night van trip out to Fort Tilden to go skinny dipping and to drink on the beach under the (probably nonexistent) stars. You and I had a conversation that night about starting an afterschool program together, joining up our talents and making something with kids. My theater, writing and music background, and your art and clothing design background really made for the perfect combination in this program! I do miss having a project to work on with you. We were good at working together! :)
MM: What is your super power?
BP: I think my superpower is punctuality. Even if I think I’m going to be late and I text the person to say so, somehow I magically make it on time. My friends all know when they are meeting me somewhere that I will be on time. And they also know that I will probably be the first one at the party! And quite possibly the last one as well, haha.
MM: Tell us about the scene where Genesis goes to Bushwick for the loft party.
BP: So, every author leaves little Easter eggs in their books for certain people to find. One very special Easter egg in Aftercare Instructions is when Genesis goes to a loft party with her cousin in Bushwick. When they drive into the neighborhood, I had to shout out my favorite store, Friends! So you can find that in there when you read the book. If you know me, you will also see other references, like friends’ names, and little shared experiences that are undetectable unless you are in the know!
"Important subject, fierce writing. Pipkin stole my heart with this book." - A.S. King, author of Still Life with Tornado
"Mighty, innovative, and nearly impossible to put down." - David Arnold, author of Kids of Appetite
"An illuminating, beautiful portrait." - Kathleen Glasgow, author of Girl in Pieces
"A riveting novel as powerful as it is essential." - Robin Wasserman, author of Girls on Fire
"Sharp and complex novel that will feel especially resonant for women in 2017." - Refinery29
"We can't overstate how much we LOVED this debut novel." - iBooks, Best Book of the Month
"Incredibly honest and empathetic." - ALA Booklist
"Big-hearted, sensitive, and engrossing." - Publishers Weekly